Quote of the week

Life isn't about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself'

George Bernard Shaw
If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/wish.html

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pictures from Christmas Fairs

Christmas Fair in Kersey Church
On Saturday morning I managed to go to two Christmas Fairs, one in Kersey and one in Great Waldingfield.

Both events were well attended and there was much of interest on sale.  I was able to solve quite a few present problems and also buy some useful edibles in time for the Christmas season.

Both events were notable for a wide variety of baked goods.  There were cup cakes in Kersey and a fine selection of square and round miniature christmas cakes at Great Waldingfield.  In addition many people in Kersey were enjoying the light as air sausage rolls, donated by the Rose at Lindsey.

Cupcakes in Kersey

Waldingfield's legendary miniature Christmas cakes

White Ribbon Campaign 2014

This year the launch of the White Ribbon Campaign, which is aimed at opposing domestic violence and abuse against women, was marked by a breakfast event in the Suffolk Sitting Room at Endeavour House.

A short film made by young local filmmakers was shown during the proceedings.  In this people from all walks of life were joined by  the Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk and the SCC Cabinet Member for Public Protection, pledging their support for the cause.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service showed their support by decorating one of their Fire Engines with White Ribbons and the White Ribbon Logo.  It can be seen here outside SCC Endeavour House just in time for a photo opportunity.

As Chairman of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership I gave a short speech at the event in which I said that I felt that 2014 has not been a great year for women internationally, with bad news concerning the treatment of women coming from both Africa and from the Middle East.  It is good that at least in our small corner of the world we are able both to voice our condemnation of violence against women at events such as these,  and also do something about it throughout the year by supporting partners in their active work in the area. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Christmas Event next weekend

 St Lawrence Church Christmas Fair

Saturday 29th November from 11 to 2 p.m. in the Village Hall, Great Waldingfield.

Lots of stalls, lunch and fun to be had.

The Noise School Choir will open proceedings.

(I am assured that the 'noise' is a good one.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Satire in Sudbury

If you have time, do take an hour or so before Christmas to visit Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury.

The newly refurbished museum shop is full of enticing gifts for Christmas, and the current exhibition is certainly worth visiting.

The Museum has been fortunate to borrow a collection of works from the Reform Club in London,  published by one of the most prolific producers of satirical prints,  Samuel William Fores (baptised 1761, d. 1838). 

Fores was active during the Napoleonic wars, one of the most important periods ever for satirical images.  He produced and published prints during a golden age, defined by the works of some of the genres greatest exponents, Gillray and Rowlandson.   There is much in the show to enjoy and laugh at.

In addition it is still possible to see the magnificent portrait by Gainsborough of his great friend, the musician, Carl Freidrich Abel, which is currently on loan to Gainsborough’s House from the National Portrait Gallery.  The picture will be returning to London in January.

To see the exhibition you will have to pay the entry charge for the House, but there is no charge for visiting the shop!

Samuel William Fores, Satirist: Caricatures from the Reform Club runs until 15th February 2015. Gainsborough’s House is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Village sign replaced after crash

The newly restored sign
A report from special correspondent Andy Sheppard, Chairman of Little Waldingfield Parish Council. 

Andy writes:- 

'It is with considerable pleasure that villagers now have a lovely village sign back where it belongs, rather than languishing broken in a garage after a car demolished it in July, and it is looking lovelier than ever.

Local tradesman Phil Scott oversaw the work, from ground-works to setting the new green oak post on its foundation and repainting the sign itself. To ensure the brick plinth could properly incorporate new knapped flint detailing, Phil also utilised the services of expert local bricklayer and friend Lee, who did a superb job as the pictures attest.

Thankfully neither the driver nor passenger in the car were injured after their car suddenly veered into the sign in July, before bouncing back onto the road and then veering once again off the road through a hedge and a number of fence posts. The damage to the car was considerable, but amazingly no airbags went off, so seat belts alone saved the passengers -  we sincerely hope the newly restored post, sign and plinth have a very long and uneventful life.'
The crash site

Friday, November 21, 2014

A tale of three pubs

The Swan at Monks Eleigh with dog!

On Wednesday evening Nick and I went to the official opening ceremony of the recently refurbished Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh.  The new owners have done a very good job, and the pub is looking good. 

The ribbon was cut by Parish Council Chairman, Don Reynolds.  He was the right man for the job since he was in fact born in the pub, which belonged to his parents, some 70 years ago.  He was able to tell us a little about its history, and, to mark the occasion he presented to the pub a picture of the premises which has been in his family since that time.

The Swan is now owned by Exclusive Inns, a company based in Cornwall.  The Group also owns the Angel at Stoke by Nayland and the Anchor at Nayland.  The Operations Manager of all three establishments, Bart Bisbal, was his usual welcoming self,  In his short speech he said that he hoped that the pub would become a ‘sitting room for the village’.  Since the interior is very welcoming, the menu enticing, and most importantly, dogs are allowed in the bar area (as in all Exclusive Inns) I am sure we will be returning very soon.

The success of the Swan, and indeed the other inns in the Exclusive portfolio is in sad contrast to two other pubs in the Division.  The Bull in Thorpe Morieux and the White Horse in Hitcham, both flourishing establishments in their time, are seeking to close their doors.    

In common with many other pubs in the UK, neither has managed to attract enough customers in recent years.  External factors have played a part:  restrictive laws on tobacco and alcohol, cheap booze from the supermarkets better drunk at home, the attractions of multimedia, have all taken their toll.  
The White Horse
However, the example of Exclusive Inns shows that a country pub can still be a viable and successful business, but it takes hard work, enthusiasm and an appetite for risk.    It is tempting in the face of adversity is to let the business run down by restricting opening hours, extinguishing the welcoming fire, and in the case of Thorpe, disguising the fact that the pub is a pub at all!  Failing to find a buyer for the 'business',  it is then possible to seek change of use to residential purposes and cash in on the financial uplift of selling the premises for conversion to a private house.  The pub is then, of course, lost forever.

The villages involved are not taking the closure of their last pub lying down.  Thorpe Morieux has registered the Bull as an asset of community value* (read their version of events in the special Thorpe Morieux page above), and representatives from Hitcham will be speaking out against the change of use application at Babergh Development Committee on Wednesday of next week.  I wish both communities luck!
Protestors outside the Bull, Thorpe Morieux
*For information on registering an asset as being of community value click here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Jogger

Every morning, except when I have a really early start, I take Rendle the Lurcher out for his morning constitutional.

It is a real pleasure on most days, even when it is raining, because the world, while recognisably the same, is also subtly different each day, and the dog's renewed enthusiam for life is encouraging.

The joy of being out and about in the countryside at any time is that there are lots of other dogwalkers to meet and greet.  In addition there are the other regulars; the local farmer on his way to get his paper down in Acton, the dustmen, the regular commuters.  All are there with a friendly wave, a 'good morning'; sometimes there is time for a conversation.

Every so often I meet 'the jogger'.  Lycra clad, she ploughs doggedly on, earphones in place, oblivious it seems to the outside world.  I sometimes attempt to greet her with a 'good morning', or more, but she does not recognise the attempt.

She has been a feature of my morning walks now for over a year, and I find her failure to connect depressing; depressing to such an extent that my heart sinks as I see her approach.

I know that she is a woman who works in London.  We can see her home from our house. She has done a deal with her company whereby she can work at home in Suffolk so many days a week. I do not blame her for that.  She also covers an impressive mileage every day.   But all the same I have to ask: is it due to her intrinsic urbanity that she cannot recognise a fellow human being with a nod, or a 'good morning'?  Or am I just old fashioned to expect the rural courtesy of recognition?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Community Safety Priority Setting Meetings

Concerns about community safety?  Speeding, shed thefts, oil thefts, dog poo, anti social behaviour etc. etc.??

The next Babergh Community Safety Priority Setting meetings, where you can raise thes matters with your local police, are as follows:-

Babergh West: Tuesday 18th November at the Village Hall, Bury Road, Thorpe Morieux from 11 a.m.to 12 noon

Babergh East:  Wednesday 19th November at Brantham Leisure Centre from 7.30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New parking standards for housing developments

I felt really depressed at today’s County Council Cabinet meeting.

My feelings had nothing to do with the paper that I had to present on the outcome of this year's budget to the end of September;  (£3million overspent on a budget of over £500m, but improving as the year progresses).

I was upset by the agenda item about guidance on the number of car parking spaces that builders will in future need to provide in new housing developments in the County.  In the past the County Council have insisted on a minimum of 1.5 car spaces per dwelling regardless of the size of the house.  Of course where developers have wanted to they have provided more, but in many cases the minimum standard has been adhered to.  This has resulted is some appalling situations for home owners, where the lack of sufficient provision has resulted in  a chaotic car parking situation, and in some cases serious neighbour issues, as inconsiderate parking has caused unpleasantness.

So relating the number of car parking spaces to the size of the houses can only be seen as an improvement, and a change long overdue.  Although smaller properties will only get one space, a three bedroom house will qualify for two, and a four bedroom house, three.  In addition visitor spaces of 0.25 to each house on a development will be required.  This means that overall more car parking spaces must be provided, and developments will be all the better for it.  Garage sizes are also to be larger, meaning that more people might actually use them as places to put the car rather than general storeage.

This all seems a good thing, so why was I depressed?  A year or so ago I argued strongly that the car parking arrangements at the new development at the Armorex Site in Lavenham were totally inadequate for the number of properties proposed.  I predicted, and continue to predict, the sort of parking mayhem at the site that these new rules are designed to avoid.  Sadly my concerns were ignored by both the planners and the Development Committee.

If the plans were to be submitted now it would be a different matter and a much better development would have been the outcome.  What a pity that the application did not come later, and fall under these new rules.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Touching the tide

I was rather taken by a film that has been released by Touching the Tide, a three year Heritage Lottery Funded landscape project that is focussing on the conservation of the Suffolk Coast Line.

To view the clip, Click here.

For more information about Touching the Tide go to


Saturday, November 8, 2014

A visit to old China

Yesterday morning I spent two happy hours at the British Museum, visiting the current exhibition Ming, 50 years that changed China.

It was a fascinating show, displaying not only the inevitable blue and white porcelain for which the era is best known, but also other artefacts, including jewellery, statues and scroll paintings, many of which have never before been outside China.  Some of these were grave goods from recently excavated tombs of princely provincial families and were  in astonishingly good condition.

This was the era when the Chinese capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing and the first Forbidden City was built.  Being made of wood the vast complex burnt down many times, but its overall shape and the colour of the buildings were very similar to what can be seen there today.

I was very struck by one scroll painting that showed that both football and a form of golf were played at the early fifteenth century Ming Court.   In addition they already used paper money.  This is quite remarkable when one remembers that at the same time that we were fighting the Battle of Agincourt.

The Ming Emperors presided over a bureaucracy that was every bit as complex as our own.  I was very taken with the following instruction to his son from the Yongle Emperor (pronounced Yongler) (r.1403 -1424)

‘Even though the secretaries handle the documents you must read them all yourself.  Thus you may know the hardship of the official so that one day you may be the ruler of men’.

This is also good advice to some present day councillors.

Ming, 50 years that changed China, runs at the British Museum until January 5th.  Further details are on the British Museum website.

Scroll painting of the Forbidden City